* Prices may differ from that shown
Nostalgia is comforting. But so is a massive bowl of cake and custard, and like nostalgia it isn't generally a good idea to indulge in cramming it into your face every half an hour if you want to be able to blink without breaking into a sweat. Nostalgia can be a treat once in a while, but I think we'd be kidding ourselves if we didn't accept that it's just psychological cholestrol waiting to clog up the arteries of creativity and progress. Nostalgia is the hubris of this album, and to all of us who were daft enough to reach into the pastry section of our memories one more time.
The trouble is that Queen were a great band, and lots of people loved them and presumably, like me, were rather gutted when Freddie Mercury passed away (even though I was only 9 at the time) and Queen were no more. We were treated to one posthumous album, as sort of a 'thanks for 25 years' retirement present, but it was time to move on and for a while it seemed that the remaining members knew that they could no longer function as Queen without one of the most distinctive singers in all of pop. Until Paul Rodgers came along and thought it would be a good idea to try to fill Freddie's enormous shoes, and Brian May and Roger Taylor didn't stop him from doing so.
Not that Paul Rodgers is a bad singer in any way - Free recorded some excellent blues-rock and 'Fire and Water' is a classic of the genre. But his white-boy-doin'-the-blues voice never really seemed to be a good choice to sing Queen's songs; I'd caught a bit of them on TV performing live and while it wasn't awful my first thought was 'if anyone should be tackling Freddie's songs it's Ronnie James Dio or nobody...preferably nobody'. But anyway, I can't begrudge three guys in their 60s reliving the fun of playing live to arenas full of fans, even if everyone knows it's really not the same any more. What we can begrudge though, is their taking the decision to record a new album. If only Gandalf had been present at EMI to yell 'YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" on their way to the recording studio.
The opener 'Cosmos Rocks' starts off sounding like 'Flash Gordon' crossed with 'Hammer to Fall', and all sounds very 'Queen', but as soon as Paul Rodgers starts singing it just sounds wrong. And it quickly slumps into a boring 12-bar blues that sounds like it could be any pub-rock band, but with ELO filling in the chorus. 'Time to Shine' sounds uncannily like U2 (not a good thing IMO as U2 embody rock mediocrity bloated by hype), with Paul Rodgers doing that Bono 'wooo-oooooo-hhhh' thing that made the Joshua Tree so damn annoying. The Brian May penned 'Still Burning' is a bit better, with a dusty, grinding blues sound interspersed with the signature Brian May guitar sound and Queen harmonies in the background.
But there are some bits that slump beneath even mediocrity into the outright embarrassing. 'We Believe' is just horrible - preachy, contrived garbage with toe-curling lyrics and it sounds like it's come from some abysmal musical with aspirations to bring world peace through the medium of gospel-inspired rock numbers. Youtube it to see what I mean. 'Warboys' is just as much of a lyrical massacre - "Here come the boys/Here come the warboys/Make some noise/When the lightning explodes I'll pray for your soul"... Its only redeeming feature is Brian May's impression of Jimi Hendrix.
'C-lebrity' is a bit of a toothless attack on our present cultural sickness of celebrity obsessed media, but since Brian May and Roger taylor have turned up on the X-Factor to perform with wimpy boy band 5ive, and have recently been on musical bilge-pump 'American Idol', one wonders who exactly they're trying to convince.
'Voodoo' is an OK Santana-style bit of Latino rock, but otherwise is pretty forgettable. I'm struggling to find anything to enthuse about here... I listened to Queen's imperious and massively bombastic second album, as well as Free's 'Fire and Water' alongside this and while it's perhaps a bit unfair to expect anything of a similar magnitude, 'Cosmos Rocks' really does sound like this band have no great songs left in them. Which is a shame because they don't sound technically bad at all, with them all possessing excellent abilities in their own right, but there is very little excitement to be found at all. They probably had fun making it, which is fair enough. Shame I can't say the same of listening to it.
I think this album really is one big mistake, trying to put together something that will stir excitement in Queen and Free fans, but will always fail to deliver. Nostalgia's a dangerous substance, it can really lead people down paths that shouldn't be trod, especially when it comes to creative output, trying to recapture an old spark or sound that really went decades ago. This is a big slice of mental gateau and custard, just waiting to cause indigestion in the unwary and it would be better to reach for that Live Aid DVD and see Queen at their peak how we remember them. Still, getting nostalgic for your favourite ageing rock bands is less dangerous than getting all nostalgic for actual cake, which would no doubt drive one mad AND fat at the same time and result in a new medical condition known as 'insanobesity'. Let's just hope Queen + Paul or whoever don't make any more albums, before every Queen fan in the world develops type 2 diabetes.
Being a massive Queen fan I looked forward to this album. I even went to 2 concerts on the tour. However there are only really a few outstanding songs on the album. Small is a lovely little number which slowly builds up and is without doubt my favourite song. We believe is another song that slowly builds up until all three members come together and sing. Finally surfs up... school's out is quite a rock number with both roger and brian sharing lyrics with Paul. To be honest it's just not a Queen album without Freddie although you can see why brian and roger chose to make it, they just love music and I feel that a below average album with a hit single has managed to keep Queen in the public eye. As for Paul Rodgers, he is no Freddie but gives as good a performance as can be expected from him.
The Cosmos Rocks.........What a let down. Being a massive Queen fan I was so excited to hear the first album from the Band (all be it with out Freddie Mercury) in 15 years.
The album has 2 good songs which are the 2 songs Queen + Paul Rogers have promoted. The title track, The Cosmos Rocks and C'lebrity. Other than that the other songs are average.
Say Its Not True is one other song on the album which I have heard before as an acoustic version live and it is beautiful. This song was written for Nelson Mandela. But the version on this album is a let down compared to the acoustic version.
This is just my opinion and it is properly clouded as all I compare it to is the original Queen line up. Paul Rogers is a great singer, a legend. But he does not suit the type of music Queen play and Queen does not suit the music he plays.
All in all the album was a let down for me and if you are buying this album to get more of what Queen were then don't as it will not deliver. But if you buy this with an open mind you may think different.
For many people, 'Queen' ceased to exist on the day that Freddie Mercury died - and that's fair enough - how could anyone possible replace the charismatic and iconic singer?. However, Queen are still rocking to this very day, and their album 'The Cosmos Rocks' represents the first outing of new material since 1995. 'Free' / 'Bad Company' front man Paul Rodgers has taken on the vocal responsibilities, so how does this epic rock collaboration sound?
I'm not going to go through this album track by track as I normally do with my music reviews, but merely pick out a few songs of note and explain my feelings towards them.
Opening with 'Cosmos Rockin'', it is instantly apparent that this nouveau Queen are willing to stray from the much-loved sound of old. Sure, it's not a bad start, but this energetic track is much more in the vein of Free than Queen. To be honest, it's quite a cheesy number, and rather 90's 'Rock Anthems' in sound - I would perhaps harshly liken it to a song written by a Queen fan rather than a member of the band.
Track Five 'Warboys' is a proper rock song with a military style beat. I would compare it in style to the Status Quo version of 'In the Army Now', and as a guitar driven epic, it works. There are however, some really dodgy lyrics featured in this one... "They look so pretty, as they march and drill... it's such a pity, they are dressed to kill" ( I could go on... in fact, I will...) "War boys, our boys, make a lot of noise... when the lightening explodes, I pray for your soul". When I listen to this song, all I can think of Victor Meldrew's friend 'Mrs Warbouys' ..."I don't BEELIEEVE IT!"
'Some Things That Glitter' is a typical Freddie Mercury style ballad - but due to the fact that it isn't Mercury singing, it's doesn't really work. That's not to say it's a bad song, just a little lacking without the former singer's passionate vocals. I think this one is actually a tribute to Fred, and I suppose it could be considered a touching number when you listen to the lyrics.
My favourite track on the album has to be track 10 'C-lebrity', an incredibly catchy number which, due to the vocal hamonisation in the chorus, is much more typical of the sound of the Queen which we all know and love. In fact, this track represents a perfect blend of Queen of old, and what Rodgers has brought to the party. Check this one out on youtube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=uA-QEK5ttdk
I would have actually liked to hear more tracks in the same vein as 'Small Reprise' which sounds very contemporary and refreshing, like a blend of The Killers and Coldplay - it's a shame it only lasts for a couple of minutes, as this one had potential.
The final track, 'Runaway' is a cover of the 60's Del Shannon song. The Brian May solo makes this one (especially the second one which kicks in at 2 mins 40), and it's actually a pretty good version of the track.
All in all, The Cosmos Rocks is by no means a bad album, unless of course you are comparing it to the work of Queen of old. There are three or four tracks on here which make for quality listening, and all in all it's a solid effort. Stepping into Freddie Mercury's shoes was always going to be an impossible challenge, and whilst Rodgers is an excellent singer, he just doesn't have the vocal range to pull it off. Apart from a couple of tracks which are merely filler (Track 12 'Say it's Not True' to name one example), this album is well worth a listen.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Cosmos Rockin'
2 Time To Shine
3 Still Burnin'
6 We Believe
7 Call Me
9 Some Things That Glitter
11 Through The Night
12 Say It's Not True
13 Surf's Up . . . School's Out!
14 small reprise